currently september 14 2014

Time and Place // 8:25 a.m. at my desk working on my laptop, since I still haven’t managed to get a new wireless card for my desktop computer. #procrastinator

Eating and Drinking // I’ve got my usual Whole30 (day 22!) breakfast again this morning: three fried eggs, an apple, Trader Joe’s almond butter, and some cranberry blood orange black tea. I found some bacon with no added sugar when I was shopping last weekend, so I’ve added that to the eggs. It’s an awesome addition.

Reading // I may have finally busted out of my reading slump! I made a point to keep the television turned off this week and instead focused on finishing a galley of Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes (Sept. 16 from Mullholland Books). After that, I started a galley of Without You There Is No Us by Suki Kim (Oct. 14 from Crown), a memoir about teaching English to the college-aged men of North Korea’s privileged class. It has a slow start, but it’s picking up.

Watching // Last weekend I was in the Twin Cities to see The Book of Mormon with my sister. It was so very funny, but, as you’d expect with a musical by the South Park guys, incredibly offensive. On Sunday, we both settled onto her couch (along with her giant orange cat, Merlin) to watch the first games of the football season. I have many thoughts on the state of football right now… but that’s another post.

Cooking // One of the things that I’ve enjoyed about my Whole30 experiment (30 days of only eating protein, fruits/vegetables and healthy fats) is that it’s made me spend more time cooking. Nothing fancy, just enough to remind myself that yes, cooking simple meals is possible and more healthy that going out to Subway all the time.

Blogging // Last week I gushed about Margaret Atwood’s new short story collectionStone Mattress. This week I’m hoping to do some mini reviews of some September titles I’ve finished and perhaps share some more details about my Whole30 experience.

Promoting // The next Bloggiesta starts this Thursday, Sept. 18! While there are a ton of blog projects I could work on next weekend, I’d like to focus on updating my blog to a new theme and dealing with all of the annoying tasks that come with that process. I think this theme update is going to be a major pain, so it’ll be good to set aside a few days to problem-solve.

Hating // Minnesota (and much of the Midwest) had a nasty cold streak this week. It was only 38 degrees one morning! It’s supposed to warm up this week, thank goodness, because I am not ready for that.

Loving // The boyfriend’s parents came to visit this weekend, which has been really great. In addition to spending lots of time eating good food, we took them out to see our local horticulture display garden and have plans to go to a movie this afternoon. It’s been fun having them around — we don’t get to see them much because they live pretty far away.

Wanting // The weather turning did get me in the mood for fall clothes. I am coveting a cool, comfy blazer kind of like this one, but less expensive. I’m also getting a lot of inspiration about adopting a minimalist wardrobe from this blog.

Anticipating // I have a haircut scheduled for next week. I love getting my haircut.

Happy Sunday, everyone! What are you reading today?

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stone mattress by margaret atwoodUntil I read Margaret Atwood’s newest short story collection, Stone Mattress, I didn’t think that I was a reader who could love short stories.

(This, despite being a fan of B.J. Novak’s collection, One More Thing. I am a slow learner)

While I adore reading novels built as a collection of interconnected short stories like Tom Rachman’s The Imperfectionists or Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon SquadI don’t generally enjoy short story collections. I’ve always thought that was a little weird but also consistent with my preference to get immersed in the worlds that I visit in fiction and television.

Short stories are usually, well, too short for me. I want to know what happens to the characters after the story ends or to head down a slightly different path with a minor character, always staying with the same world.

Stone Mattress opens with three stories that do exactly that, starting with a piece about an aging fantasy writer who receives instructions about how to ride out a snowstorm from her dead husband. The next two follow characters in her past and round out a world of aged Bohemian artists and long-held grudges.

I am a sucker for those types of stories, so it was a perfect way to pull me into this collection. To my delight, a later story, “I Dream of Zenia with the Bright Red Teeth,” revisits characters from one of my favorite Atwood novels, Cat’s Eye, to see what they’ve been doing. Again, catnip for me an Atwood fan. These kinds of connections are what I seem to crave in fiction.

But, somewhat to my surprise, I also loved the stories that weren’t explicitly connected to other stories. Despite their relatively short length, Atwood does an amazing job of succinctly, artfully giving each main character a history and enough motivation that it feels like the story will keep going after the final sentence.

In the title story, for example, the main character finds herself in a situation to commit the perfect murder. Along the way, Atwood shows why she has become this way and leaves open possibilities that her story will continue. It’s an ending of a story that feels both conclusive and open. It’s so great. In another story, “The Dead Hand Loves You,” Atwood tells a tale of a cult horror film and the pact the creator made with his college roommates. The ending is, again, final but also delightfully twisty.

It helps, of course, that Atwood is one of my favorite authors and that I will basically throw myself into anything that she’s written. But I was honestly surprised at how much I loved this collection, given my assumption that short story collections just don’t work for me. If you’ve never read Atwood before, Stone Mattress is a perfect volume to give a sense of her style. And if your a fan of Atwood, absolutely go grab this collection.

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Four Factors in a Fantastically Terrible Reading Slump

September 5, 2014 Musings

If you haven’t noticed, I’ve been in a wicked reading and blogging slump. It started at the beginning of August, held on through the entire month, and doesn’t seem to be letting up now that September has arrived. It’s been rough. Although I hate being in slumps like these, I don’t let myself feel bad […]

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August 2014 Reading Wrap-Up and a Look to September

August 29, 2014 Monthly Review

In terms of reading (and let’s be honest, blogging), August was pretty much a bust. After reading a ton in July, I just didn’t have the mental space for many books this month. And you know what? I’m entirely ok with that. Reading goes in cycles and you just have to go with the flow […]

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Assorted Thoughts on Getting into Comic Books

August 27, 2014 Musings

I am just getting into reading more comic books, and I know I have ComiXology to thank for it. ComiXology is a “cloud-based digital comics platform” that I use to buy and read digital comics. I first started using ComiXology in April when the first three trade editions of Saga by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona […]

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Currently | Watching More Than Reading

August 24, 2014 Currently

Time and Place // 8:30 a.m. in my living room Eating and Drinking // I decided to officially start on my first attempt at a Whole30 this morning, so breakfast was two eggs, fruit, coconut flakes and water. I need to go some meal planning today. Reading // I’ve had a slow reading week. I […]

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Have a Listen: ‘Unbroken’ and ‘Detroit’

August 19, 2014 Book Review

This weekend, a friend asked me for a recommendation for a happy book. As I thought through the nonfiction I’ve read recently, I realized that most of it has been kind of depressing. But that’s one of the reasons I love good nonfiction — authors often tackle stories that are hard to read but need to be told. […]

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Currently | A Weekend at Home

August 17, 2014 Currently

Time and Place // 9:30 a.m. at my desk in my office (an actual separate room) in our new house. Last weekend, I was in the Twin Cities to cheer on my friend Erin in a half marathon. Then on Wednesday, I had to drive to the Cities again for a training. I put a lot […]

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Books I Bought in August (So Far)

August 13, 2014 Musings

I was really good about not buying more books in the month or so up to our move at the beginning of the month… but then I sort of lost my mind and bought a ton of new books. In my defense, I got to visit three different bookstores when I was in the Twin […]

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8 Tips for Moving When You Have a Ton of Books

August 6, 2014 Musings

This post originally appeared on Book Riot. I wrote it as I was preparing to move and, now that I’m nearing the end of the unpacking phase, I can tell you that the tip about reusable grocery bags (included in #3) is the best one in the bunch. Being a mobile book hoarder can be a challenge. […]

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